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Science teacher imagines a lab for his students

November 9, 2009

Jay LeCroy is a science teacher in a county outside of the Community Foundation’s geographic area. But he still has an Imagine idea well worth sharing.

At Isabella High School in Maplesville, AL, he explains, he is “struggling to teach and inspire a generation of students in a small country school that lacks a lab and supplies. Yes, that’s right, I teach middle and high school science in all areas without a lab. My goal is to give each student a chance to experience a rewarding career in science and engineering, but I’m afraid that many students are slipping through the cracks of a poorly funded system.”

Despite these challenges, LeCroy has a dream:
I have a “shovel-ready project” to build a lab and science classrooms at my school. We need a lab large enough to house as many as 35 students. It would be used for all areas of science and is desperately needed. I teach science in a small school in rural Alabama. I teach all areas in science from 7th to 12th grades. Since Isabella is located in the country—meaning we don’t even have a traffic light, and the nearest town with a post office or bank is nearly 10 miles away–it is a high-need school in a poor community. We are a Title I school.

I am attempting to build a strong science program. I do not have access to gas or water in my classroom. When I arrived two years ago, I did not have microscopes, beakers, flasks etc…I still don’t have enough. Our needs are great. I work out of a room that was never meant to be used for science.

What I do have access to is smart, well-behaved students often from impoverished homes who are eager to learn but have never been given the opportunity to love science in its “hands-on” state. They are so excited to have been introduced to some science labs that a university nearly 30 miles away has been willing to conduct (through a partnership with the Alabama Math and Science Technology Initiative, which the Community Foundation has supported).

Just these experiments have really sparked an interest in things we might do someday. Our dream is to host lively science classes in our own laboratory—furnished with all the essentials—and awaken the minds of some future scientists or engineers. Never more would people be able to look with disdain on the science shortcomings of Alabama students.

Having introduced science labs to the 8th-12th graders has had the coolest effect here: younger students, including fourth graders and second graders with older siblings in my class, have visited to let me know that they can’t wait to take science here. Imagine the inspiration when all of our students (we’re K-12) walk into to a science laboratory and begin to work.

We have students that can go into the science fields such as engineering or medicine if they are properly trained in high school. These kids are sharp, and in spite of our lack of funding, some have the ability to flourish even now on the college preparatory tests. We are letting a generation slip through the cracks.

It is a shame not to maximize their learning potential for the over-tired excuse, “lack of funding.” Whatever happened to, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”? My science colleague and I are enthusiastic and determined. With your help, we can provide the proper science education to propel our students into a lifetime of curiosity and love of learning about science.

If you help my school, I pledge to use your program to create a curriculum that promotes technological literacy, that requires the students to think on their feet, and that develops tomorrow’s work force today. History has shown that the few alumni that has gone on to engineering or medicine has relocated to Birmingham and Shelby County. Along with Alabama Science in Motion, BEST Robotics, and with your help, I am building a project-based learning program at a small, poor county in central Alabama.

If you will take care of the science funding, I will gladly take care of the science instruction. Never before has it been so important for students to see our country’s investment in their education.

Interested? Find out more from Jay LeCroy at Isabella High School in Maplesville, Alabama.

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